“If I could find anything blacker than black, I'd use it.” – J. M. W. Turner, Born Apr. 23, 1775.
This one isn't about the content of the quote, but more about the implications of it.
Turner couldn't find paint that was any blacker than the paints he used. He could never actually accurately show people the images in his mind.
But through the simple use of words, he was able to EXACTLY describe a thing that did not exist. With that description, we can understand exactly what he meant.
Even though it's a substance that does not actually exist.
Do you get it?
The imagination is a simulator. But unlike any other simulator we know of, it can simulate things that do not actually exist. Paint is a simulator. Clay is. Even computers are. But they can't imagine the way a brain can.
And it can do it with great fidelity, and can do it unbound by the physical and material limitations of the world we find ourselves in.
That is why of all artists, writers have a unique advantage.
Even in this modern age where we can create high definition 3D visuals of literally anything one can imagine, not limited to the selection of pigments that Turner was – those renderings are still things that must be visible to the eyes.
And so it is with music. No musician can create music that goes beyond the sounds that human ears can hear.
But in writing, I just described to you the possibility of music that goes beyond what the human ear can hear. You can imagine it, even if you will never hear it.
Borges once said that if you can't write the greatest book ever written, you can just write a story ABOUT the greatest book ever written, and still be the creator of it.
Writing can create images that the eyes couldn't even detect. Words can make thoughts and desires visible. Words can describe experiences that defy visual representation. Same with all senses. Same with memories. Same with fantasies and daydreams and hopes.
And that is why we writers are powerful.
We can literally break the limitations of reality and put ideas in people's minds. We can program the most sophisticated simulation machine ever known, and we can override and exceed the natural sensory inputs that normally limit this imagination engine.
Do you realize how amazing that is?
Do you realize how terrible that is?
Well-written work can literally create INVOLUNTARY and IRRESISTIBLE changes in the reader's mind.
And I can do this. You can do this. Anyone literate has this power over any other literate person.
What can we do with it? What can't we?
I use it to get people to give me money. Any other ideas?
<!—- lagniappe When we want to use this concept in our writing, to force the reader’s imagination into desire mode through guided fantasy and waking dreams, here are some things to keep in mind. 1. Experiential stories. When you are telling a tale to create rapport and implant desire, you use stories that are based on firsthand experience. There is a setting, there is a conflict, and the person telling the story is the one it happened to. This allows the reader to assume the point of view of the storyteller and begin to vicariously experience what is occurring. We provide them perspective to see what we want them to see. 2. Sensory description. Bring all the external sense inputs into your story. Not just what is seen through the teller’s eyes, but sounds, smells, touch - begin with ones that are familiar and recognizable. Intrusive ones can pull people in fastest. Combine senses for maximum effect - a noise so loud it vibrates your bones. A smell so bad, it makes your mouth taste like sour milk. 3. Emotional pacing. As the needs of the story dictate, verify and validate the emotional reactions that the reader should be imagining through the way the teller reacts in the retelling. The goal is to guess correctly at the beginning part of the story, so the reader can sync their own emotional reactions to the storyteller’s. Now we have them fully immersed. It’s like they are seeing the story as though it’s happening to them. Senses and emotions both engaged. 4. Exit familiarity. Now that the reader is relating to the storyteller, they have rapport, shared senses and emotional reactions - now we can safely lead them into the unfamiliar. Sensations they haven’t had, emotional reactions they haven’t felt. Strange territory. But because we have already synced up to them, they are willing now to ACCEPT the storyteller’s feelings and reactions as their own. They can more easily follow along and allow themselves to be transported in the story. They are invested - their own emotions are in play. Sadness, anger, frustration, fear, etc. If it happens now in the story, they will adopt it themselves. If you do it in this order, you have readers who will now willingly accept the truth about stories dealing with the problems your solution-for-sale will address. They will experience the catharsis and proxy relief when you tell them how the conflict was ended and pain was replaced with pleasure and peace. So when we walk them back to where THEY are in THEIR story, they will want to follow the path we laid out. We make it easier easy as typing in a few numbers at most. Just pay the fee and you can take the ride yourself and end up at the same place you “saw” in the story. Sound simple? —->
1 thought on “Programming Imaginations With Impossible Imagery is the New Black”
This is my favourite article so far. I'm an avid reader of fiction, who, since deciding to undertake a copywriting course, has decided to temporarily put my fantasy world to one side. Your comparison of fiction writing to copywriting was heartening and helps me reaffirm my chosen path. Thank you.